Senator Mike Regan E-Newsletter

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Week of January 27, 2020

In this Edition:

  • Regan on Face the State with Robb Hanrahan
  • Veterans Court Bill Goes to Full Senate
  • Senate Advances Bills to Assist Fire & EMS
  • Weekly Review of Senate Legislative Action
  • 31st District Spotlight: Senate Citation Honoring Judge Chuck Clement
  • Public Comment Period for PennDOT’s Draft Statewide Public Participation Plan Now Open
  • Next Week in the Senate

Regan on Face the State with Robb Hanrahan

In case you missed it, on Sunday I had the opportunity to appear on Face the State with Robb Hanrahan, which airs on CBS 21, to discuss several of my legislative proposals including Veterans Courts and strengthening penalties for dealing drugs with a firearm.

Click here to watch the full interview.

Veterans Court Bill Goes to Full Senate

1/29/20 - Veterans Courts (SB 976)

On Wednesday the Senate Judiciary Committee, which I serve on, unanimously supported legislation I am sponsoring with Senator Doug Mastriano (R-33) that would promote Veterans Courts in Pennsylvania.

These specialty courts, which are optional for both the judicial system and the Veteran to enter into, emphasize a team-focused approach by having Veterans appear before judges on a regular basis and receive mentorship from fellow Veterans. The Veterans are also supervised by specialized probation officers and receive treatment and support from the federal Veterans Administration to address underlying problems often caused by post-traumatic stress injuries (PTSI). These courts have seen great success with extremely low recidivism rates here in Pennsylvania and across the nation.

As Chairman of the Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee, I held six roundtable discussions this past year on the serious issue of Veterans Suicide.  During each of these roundtables, we heard how successful Veterans Courts have been – not just in preventing repeat offenders but getting Veterans back on track with strong accountability and mentorship.

In response, I teamed up with Senator Mastriano, who served 30 years in the U.S. Army, to introduce Senate Bill 976, which would formally place Veterans Courts into state statute, encourage counties that do not have a Veterans Court to collaborate with other counties that do, and allow counties that have other “problem-solving courts” to incorporate a “Veterans Track” into those established programs. 

The first Veterans Court in Pennsylvania was established in Lackawanna County in 2009.  Since then, 24 additional counties have created these special courts. 

Senate Advances Bills to Assist Fire & EMS

1/27/20 – Consideration of Bills

This week the Senate advanced several pieces of legislation derived from recommendations contained in the recent Senate Resolution 6 Commission Report that are aimed at helping fire and EMS companies address challenges they face.

The Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee approved the following three measures on Monday.

  • Senate Bill 932, sponsored by Senator Lisa Boscola (D-18), would permit “combination” fire companies – those with both volunteer and paid firefighters – to be eligible for Fire Relief funding. Currently, they do not qualify, but in order to ensure coverage for their municipalities, many volunteer fire companies have had to bring on some paid firefighters.  This legislation will ensure they are not penalized for doing so.
  • Senate Bill 987, sponsored by Senator Scott Hutchinson (R-21), would restructure the Office of State Fire Commissioner. Under this legislation, the Fire Commissioner would report directly to the Governor, instead of having to go through the Lieutenant Governor’s Office. It is imperative, for the sake of public safety, that the voice of the Fire Commissioner be heard like other state agencies. The bill would also increase the stature of the position by requiring Senate confirmation. Finally, the bill would reconstitute an advisory board to the Fire Commissioner.
  • Senate Bill 996, sponsored by Senator Michele Brooks (R-50), would allow the Department of Health to grant waivers to EMS agencies for certain staffing issues. Many rural EMS providers are struggling to staff ambulances with drivers who are certified EMTs.  Rather than these companies having to shut their doors, this legislation provides some flexibility to keep them running calls.

Each of the bills now goes to the full Senate for further consideration.

On Tuesday, the full Senate gave final approval to legislation I am sponsoring, Senate Bill 908, which makes significant changes to both the Volunteer Loan Assistance Program (VLAP) and the Fire Relief Program. 

The legislation changes VLAP to the Fire and Emergency Medical Services Loan Assistance Program.  Additionally, it would expand the allowable list of uses of Fire Relief funding and provide for a study of the current funding formula.

Senate Bill 910, introduced by Senator Doug Mastriano (R-33), would extend the Fire Company and Emergency Medical Services Grant Program, which is set to expire in June of this year, to June 2024. The bill would also expand the allowable use of funds to include recruitment and retention programs, as well as volunteer fire length of service awards.

These two bills now go to the House for consideration. 

Weekly Review of Senate Legislative Action

For a full recap of all legislative action taken by the Senate this past session week including bills sent to the House for consideration or to the Governor for signature, as well as legislation voted on in committees, click here.

31st District Spotlight

On Monday, I had the great pleasure of presenting Judge Chuck Clement a Senate Citation in honor of his retirement, recognizing his decades of service to the residents of Lower Allen, New Cumberland, and Shiremanstown. 

Public Comment Period for PennDOT’s Draft Statewide Public Participation Plan Now Open

This week the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) opened a 45-day public comment period on proposed updates to its Statewide Public Participation Plan. The public has until March 11th to weigh-in. Click here for more details.

Next Week in the Senate

Monday, February 3rd at 1pm – Senate returns to Session. I will be recognizing the Camp Hill Girls’ Soccer Team on the Senate Floor for their achievement as State Champions!

Tuesday, February 4th at 11:00am – The Senate will convene and then proceed to the House of Representatives for Governor Wolf’s 2020-2021 Budget Address to a Joint Session of the House and Senate scheduled for 11:30am.

Wednesday, February 5th at 11am – Senate Session convenes.

Watch Session Live by visiting my website www.senatormikereganpa.com and clicking the Legislation tab.

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